The Changing West Chester Skyline

5 Signature Plots of Land are Under Consideration for Future Development

With its tight, row-home and twin-lined streets and already active business district, it may be hard for the average resident to identify areas to develop in West Chester.  Outside the abandoned corner of Church and Gay, (which has many residents wondering – when will they do something?) the Borough already seems to be packed pretty tight.

But as property values increase and space becomes a premium (Chestnut Street Lofts and Chestnut Square apartment complexes are both at capacity), residents and developers continue to look for new opportunities to wedge in growth. Some of these projects have long been discussed (that afore-mentioned corner for one) while others are still largely question marks.

Here are a few of the projects that we could see leaving their impression on the Borough in the future:

West Chester Map showing areas of future development.
Developers have found at least five spots to squeeze in new construction.

 

  1. Mostellar Building

Location: South Church and West Gay

Status: In the planning stages

The project: Demolish the current structure and replace it with a 45,000 sq. ft, four-story mixed-use building that would feature retail, restaurants, and office space. The design also referred to as the Plaza Plan features an outdoor gathering place at the corner. This amenity has been hailed as much needed by residents and council members alike. While largely popular, the project does have its critics and has faced opposition for its size, design and request for additional liquor licenses.

Next steps: Developer Eli Kahn is pushing for a rewrite of the zoning code that would alleviate parking requirements and make it somewhat easier to go above the 45-foot height ordinance in the downtown business district. The Borough Council is currently reviewing these zoning requests and is considering a rewrite.

  1. Rubenstein’s

Location: 250 East Market Street

Status: Early planning stages

The project: The site of the former office supply retailer, on the right-hand side as you head out of town, is also up for redevelopment and once again housing is the name of the game. While no formal plans have been submitted builder Eli Khan has a vision for a high-density, apartment building. Proponents of the apartments, said to be an average size of 500 sq. ft., say they would bring more affordable rental options to the Borough. Those not yet sold argue it’s only because their small size would make rent less expensive.

Next steps: This project as currently outlined is contingent on changes to the zoning code. If Borough Council goes ahead with planned code updates they could green light this project.

  1. The Old Daily Local Facility

Daily Local building in West Chester
Old Daily Local building

Location: 250 North Bradford Avenue

Status: In the planning stages

The proposal: Update: The project has been revised to a 270-unit building from the originally proposed 325 and the parking for the building will not be under the main building as initially thought but will be provided for with a four-story parking garage that will be built behind the main building. 

Toll Brothers developers are proposing a 325-unit apartment complex on the five acre property. While nothing is final – the project is currently under review by East Bradford Township – the current proposal shows a building with six stories in front and fewer in back to accommodate the slope of the land. There would be some parking along the front of the building but most spaces would be hidden in the first couple levels of the building, a design known as podium parking.

Traffic implications: According to the submitted traffic impact study, the new building would generate a total of 166 new trips during a weekday a.m. peak hour and 202 new trips during a weekday p.m. peak hour. Although this may be seen as a best case scenario as the study only focused on the impact during two peak hours – one in the morning and one in the afternoon and did not include impacts to the intersection of Bradford Ave and Rte. 322.

Next steps: The proposal is contingent on an amendment to the East Bradford Zoning Ordinance. The plan is currently under review by the East Bradford Planning commission.

  1. The Hickman

Location: 400 North Walnut Street

Status: Near completion

The project: A 3-story, gable roof building featuring a secure dementia care program with dedicated outdoor garden. This project which began in 2016 with the demolition of the existing Sharples-Hall building is nearing completion. Exterior finishing work is being completed.

The new building will have 71-residential units a combination of shared, studio and 1-BR units.

Planned completion: January 2018

  1. The Pfizer Property

The location: South Bolmar and East Nields

Status: Under contract

The early intel: Local developer Eli Kahn has reportedly reached an agreement with the Department of Environmental Protection and Pfizer to purchase the 30-acre site on the corner of South Bolmar and East Nields streets. The now vacant lot was home to a Wyeth pharmaceutical plant. The plant closed in 2004 and the buildings were demolished two years later. The site is contaminated by the chemicals once produced there, limiting the options for the site.

Next steps: It is not clear what the intent is for the property is or when development, if any, would begin.

New proposals, petitions to subdivide lots or grant zoning code variances appear before Borough committees monthly. While many of these projects are still in the dreaming phases many come to fruition every year. We’ll have to see what changes will come in 2018.

Have you heard rumors of any new developments on the horizon? I’d love to know if I’m missing anything. 

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